The C9 League was established by the Chinese central government on May 4, 1998 with the goal of advancing the Chinese higher education system. The establishment of the C9 League was a part of the Chinese central government's Project 985. In the first phase, the nine universities were selected and allocated funding for an initial period of three years. On October 10, 2009, these nine universities made up the C9 League.
The aim of the C9 is to communicate with each other in order to foster better students and share their resources, including campuses, teachers, and so on. More importantly, they have committed themselves to world-class excellence. The establishment of the C9 League has been welcomed by Chinese public opinion and its central idea of building world-class universities has been well supported by both the government and society. Other universities outside the C9 League designated by the central government with the goal of reaching world class include National University of Defense Technology, Renmin University of China, and Wuhan University.